The community Kindy of Beck Street, operating for around 50 years, lingers between prosperous agricultural land and mining initiatives of Dalby.
The enthusiastic Beck Street kindergarten children aged between three and four years established their own vegetable gardens over a year ago with the help of their motivated teachers. It has now come time for the pint-sized gardeners to showcase their best harvest table. Locally manufactured, purchased and filled, the gardens have provided a healthy sanctuary for various herbs including mustard fennel, coriander, thyme, chocolate mint, parsley and an assortment of basil varieties, under the watchful eye of the children, who eagerly rid the garden of any ‘suspicious-looking’ visitors to the plentiful produce habitat. Alongside the herbs grow basketfuls of salad-ready lettuce, celery, shallots and tomatoes. The neighbouring produce includes onion, beetroot, potato and chives, sweet strawberries and bunches of rhubarb that complement the luscious plants of spinach, cauliflower and broccoli.
“The garden is an invaluable tool for the students of Beck Street to learn about the essential healthy eating diet, with the ability to grow an understanding for the food chain of garden to table,” say director Nerolie Farquharson and teacher assistants Sharryn MacDougall and Nikki Nearhos, who are actively involved in linking the garden practices to classroom teachings. At the end of each season comes the most exciting time where the fresh produce can be plucked and picked from the storks of plants enticing the students’ stomachs for the main event; cooking and eating. Over the term, there has been many a creative meal including zucchini slice, rhubarb crumble, pesto and salsa. Sharing is one of the integral parts of such a venture, where all hands and mouths have a chance to participate in and taste the gleefully delicious freshness bursting out of the food. The children are often excited to see parents ducking in especially to gather their fresh herbs for the day and love hearing stories of what herbs were used for dinner last night. Recently crowned champions of the Dalby Show Produce Exhibition and the Dalby Beautification Week, the children have learnt how effort and motivation pays off in the end, not only in their stomachs at harvest time, but in the community where active participation is always encouraged. A recent addition to the garden has been three chooks, whose company has been enjoyed through the collection of eggs, as well as providing a good alternative for scrap disposers. Adding to the understanding of how the food chain works, and the roles nature plays within it, have provided invaluable learning for all.
In the future, Beck Street hopes to implement a compost heap and worm farm to assist in lowering the environmental impact of the kindergarten, a topic recently discussed in depth. Engaging today’s youth in something as simple as vegetable gardens and the production of food, aids in increasing awareness of the importance of environmental consciousness and sustainability. Beck Street Kindergarten is proudly taking these positive steps in educating young people in the community.
Words by Laura Mcdougall | Images by Sharryn Macdougall